June 25, 2013
STEPHEN B. WAINWRIGHT, Petitioner,
ERIC D. WILSON, Respondent.
ORDER & OPINION
JOE BILLY McDADE, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 10) of the Court's January 3, 2013 Order transferring this case to the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Doc. 9). Petitioner also filed a Motion to Expedite the Court's ruling on his Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 11). For the reasons stated below, the Motion for Reconsideration is denied, and the Motion to Expedite is denied as moot.
On January 3, 2013, the Court transferred Petitioner's nominal § 2254 to the Eastern District of Virginia, as that is the district court having territorial jurisdiction over Petitioner's custodian, citing to Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 442-45 (2004). (Doc. 9). It did so following its December 4, 2012 initial review of the petition (Doc. 4), having belatedly realized that it did not have the power over Petitioner's custodian that would enable it to grant the relief he sought. As the Court explained in that initial review, though, Petitioner's filing presented a conundrum:
Petitioner is currently being held in federal custody in Virginia, but... he is challenging an Illinois state-court conviction that he says was used to enhance his federal sentence. Petitioner's challenge thus presents a problem of classification: 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is available to either state or federal prisoners in different situations but may only be used in the district of current confinement, § 2254 is available for prisoners to challenge their state-court convictions and sentences, and § 2255 is available for federal prisoners to challenge their federal convictions and sentences. Because Petitioner captions his filing as a § 2254 Petition, and because § 2254(a) provides that the Court may hear a § 2254 Petition from "a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, " the Court will treat his Petition as arising under § 2254. Here, since Petitioner claims that his federal sentence was enhanced by his state conviction, in a way his custody results, at least in part, "pursuant to the judgment of a State court."
(Doc. 4 at 2).
It is this tension between the sections which has caused the current confusion. Petitioner is correct that the Padilla decision ostensibly addressed only petitions pursuant to § 2241, and that a § 2254 petitioner may challenge his state conviction in either the district of confinement or the district of conviction. Since Petitioner is not in custody within Illinois, no District Court within Illinois would have territorial jurisdiction over his custodian, even if § 2254 does provide that either the district of confinement or the district of conviction are appropriate sites for a § 2254 petition. Such territorial jurisdiction is required, as Padilla explains, for a court to be able to grant the relief Petitioner seeks. Ordinarily, this is not a concern for § 2254 petitioners, as they are typically in custody on the challenged conviction in the state of conviction; any District Court that is available under § 2254 would necessarily have territorial jurisdiction over the petitioner's custodian. Petitioner is an unusual type of § 2254 petitioner, though, in that he is not within the territorial jurisdiction of the District Court for the district in which he was convicted, and so this location is unavailable to him. Only the District Court for the district of Petitioner's current confinement will have territorial jurisdiction over his custodian, and therefore the power to grant him relief.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 10) is DENIED, and the Motion to Expedite (Doc. 11) is DENIED AS MOOT. CASE TERMINATED.